Social Media isn’t going away: Why you need to educate Yourself

We all know the perils of social media, especially when it comes to high school and college athletes. Two weeks ago, Pat Welch of Pembroke Academy in New Hampshire put out this tweet, and as a result was stripped of his Player of the Year Award.

Rick Pitino went on the record several weeks ago, putting it very plainly how he feels about social media and those who use it on a regular basis:BgwtvUHIIAAEtMA

Tom Izzo has an equally unfavorable view of Twitter and Facebook, though it’s not for the reasons you may suspect:

“I told my players [before the opening game of the season], it you beat Kentucky you’re going to have 10,000 fans tweeting you and you are going to have to deal with that,” Izzo said. “Then if you lose to Kentucky, because we love the negativity in our society, you’re going to have 100,000 fans tweeting you telling you how bad you are.

“Well, just think about that … that was not easy for them to deal with.”

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Instead of railing against the internet and technology in general like Pitino, Izzo raises a valid point about the danger social media poses to mental well-being and self-esteem, which is hard enough for most young people to sustain.

There is actually a lot reliable research out there that would agree with Izzo’s feelings about the subject, including this one which concludes that basically the more you use Facebook, the worse off you are mentally (which would explain a lot in my case).

We’ve all seen it before, where a kicker will miss a big kick in the clutch, and fans will rush to crucify him on Twitter (Ex: Cade Foster for Alabama after the Iron Bowl last season).

Like it or not, social media and the internet in general is not going away. In my opinion, coaches who flat out ridicule Twitter and Facebook use are fooling themselves if they think they’re doing kids any good. Instead, make sure your kids are educated on how to conduct themselves online, and also how to handle criticism which is practically inevitable for an athlete these days.

If it matters to your players, it needs to matter to you, or at the very least, you need to be educated about it. Pretending it doesn’t exist just means that you’re not preparing your players to represent themselves, the school, and the program as best they can, and that will usually spell disaster.

To borrow from what Gary Barnett said in Nashville last year, if you’re not clearly outlining what you expect from your players in each situation, you’re opening yourself to all kinds of bad things, including possible legal consequences depending on the severity of the situation.

Educate yourself if you’re not familiar with this subject. Some head coaches have even designated an assistant on staff as the Social Media Coordinator, responsible for communicating the policies they want in place, and monitoring players Facebook and Twitter posts.

If you want more information on how to adjust privacy settings on social networks so that your players protect themselves, start here for Facebook, and here for Twitter.


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